Jason snorted. Then for good measure he snorted again. His little grasshopper wasn't getting sick of him. He was damn sure of that. She absolutely adored him, loved him. He knew it even if the stubborn woman hadn't said it yet, but she would. Then he'd tell her how much he loved her, but only after she told him because he really didn't want to feel like an idiot saying it first. He'd never said it before and had absolutely no idea how to go about doing it now. So, the safe plan was to wait until Haley said it. He had absolutely no doubt that she'd say it soon since there was no doubt in his mind that she loved him.

No, the reason he was hanging out with the guys today wasn't because she was getting sick of him. It was quite simple. He was banned from going yard sale hopping with her for one year. Not that he cared, he didn't. It did seem a little unfair to him that's all. It's not like he intentionally went out of his way to embarrass Haley. Those things just seemed to happen to those around him. Most accepted that little fact of life, but that hadn't stopped Haley from banning him.

You tell one or six people that the stuff they were trying to hawk on their front lawns was crap and all of a sudden he's banned. Well, that and the box of antique dishes that he broke might have had something to do with it. He didn't know why the guy was pissed. He gave him the fifty bucks for it. He should be the one that was mad after all he was the one who was out fifty bucks for a set of broken girly dishes.

"I bet Haley's off with another guy right now-Ow! What the hell?" Mitch whined as he rubbed the nasty looking red spot on his forehead that would no doubt be a noticeable bump by morning.

Brad sighed as he picked up Jason's half empty can of beer that rolled to a stop by his feet. He poured the rest of the beer onto the lawn as he shook his head in disbelief. "You knew better," he told a sulking Mitch.

"I was just kidding!"

Brad shrugged.

"That's f**ked up!"

"Don't talk about my little grasshopper," Jason simply said. The man should be happy that all he did was throw his beer at him.

Mitch grabbed a handful of ice from the bucket and pressed it against his forehead. "She's not even that beautiful," he muttered quietly to himself.

Jason was out of his chair and lunging for the little bastard before the last syllable left his mouth. Brad being Brad, dropped his beer and jumped between the two men seconds before Jason would have slammed into him. All three men went tumbling off the deck to the ground with Brad doing his best to keep a very pissed off Jason from killing Mitch.

"Get him off me!" Mitch screamed like a girl as he tried frantically to crawl away. With Brad on his back trying his best to hold him back, Jason lunged and managed to grab Mitch's leg and proceeded to drag the man to him so he could beat the shit out of him.

"For f**k sake, take it back!" Brad yelled as he struggled to restrain Jason.

"Aaah!" Mitch screamed as he was dragged inch by inch towards a future in a body cast. He tried to dig his nails into the lawn to no avail.

"I didn't mean it like that! She's hot! Insanely beautiful! I just meant that you've dated really beautiful women before and you've never acted like this before! Oh my god, don't kill me!" The words rush out of Mitch's mouth, ending on a squeal as Jason dragged him beneath him and flipped him over with a fist raised and ready.

Mitch held his hands out palms out trying to get Jason to stop. "I swear to god I didn't mean it! I love her!" At Jason's growl of anger Mitch rushed to continue. "Not like that! I love her like a friend! I think she's great! I swear I didn't mean it!"

"I told you not to tease him about her," Brad groaned as he tried to pull Jason off the man, but Jason outweighed him by a good thirty pounds of muscle. He watched his friend through narrowed slits as he fought back the urge to beat the shit out of him. This was one of his oldest friends and part of him knew the man was only giving him shit, but he didn't allow anyone to talk about or treat his little grasshopper with anything but respect.

With barely controlled rage Jason took a deep breath before he spoke. "Let's clear this up once and for all." At Mitch's enthusiastic nod, probably because if Jason was talking it meant he wasn't beating the crap out of him, he continued. "Haley is my world," he said, ignoring Mitch's eyes bugging out at that announcement. "Because we've been friends since we were five I'm going to overlook this little act of stupidity." Mitch noticeably relaxed at that announcement. "As long as you stop ogling my girlfriend's ass."

Mitch pursed his lips, thinking over the ultimatum. After a minute he dropped his arms to his side and sighed, "I'd rather get my ass kicked."

Chapter 18

"Baby, stop!" Haley said, giggling.

Jason hugged her waist tighter, keeping her from walking away. "Stay home with me. I missed you," he said, giving her his best pout.

She gently ran her fingers through his hair the way he liked it. "I'm sorry, sweetie, but I can't back out again. I promised Amy and the girls that I was definitely coming tonight."

There was no way she was allowing herself to stay home tonight. Over the past week she'd come so close to wrecking the surprise by telling him. She knew that if she stayed home tonight that the excitement would get to her and she'd blurt it out and everything she'd gone through over the past month to plan this would be wrecked.

Of course none of this would have been possible without her grandmother's help. A few times Haley considered giving up when money and location became an issue, but then Grandma offered to help her out. Grandma found her the perfect place at more than half the cost of every place Haley had looked into.

It was the first time Haley had ever accepted her grandmother's help. It had always been important for her to make it on her own without her family's money and influence. For Jason she'd sucked up her pride and asked Grandma to help her find the perfect cabin to rent. Everything was going to be perfect.

"Does it not matter that I'm on my knees begging you? You're really going to be able to leave someone this pathetic?" he demanded in a sulky tone.

Haley rolled her eyes as she gently pried his arms from around her waist. "It's just for a couple of hours. You won't even know I'm gone," she promised him.

He sat back on his haunches doing his best to look pathetic.

She did her best not to roll her eyes, again. It was just so damn cute and sweet that he didn't want to spend even one night without her. This was something she never expected from Jason Bradford, one of many things actually. He was so sweet and attentive.

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